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Seven Years since Deathly Hallows

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It’s been seven years since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! Or it was on July 21st. I’m not sure I’d celebrate “seven years since” for anything else, but with Harry Potter, seven years seems particularly significant.

I’ve rarely written about Harry Potter here, in part because it feels somewhat untouchable. I’m reluctant to poke and analyse something that has meant so much to me pretty much as long as I can remember. I read my first Harry Potter book when I was 8, and remember desperately waiting for Prisoner of Azkaban to be released. The final book came out in the summer before I started college, and the final movie came out the year that I graduated college. Harry Potter provided the framework for so much of my life.

But articles like this have me reflecting not just on the books, but on the fandom around them when they were still being released. The crazy theories, the intense shipping, the “Big Name Fans”… and the fan responses to certain characters. Hermione Granger was, of course, a massive fan favorite, and perhaps more of a flawed character than we gave her credit for (I at least never noticed how ruthless she is). Lots of the shades-of-grey-at-best male characters, like Draco Malfoy and Snape, received endless adoration. But most other female characters received a less excited welcome. Lavender Brown was reviled for being shallow, Cho Chang was too emotional, Fleur Delacour was ridiculous and annoying, and Ginny was a bitch, a slut and/or a Mary Sue, depending on the critic.

The series is generally light on female characters, with the Weasley family ratio somewhat representative of the number of male vs female characters as teachers, in positions of power, and in the background at Hogwarts (were Hermione, Lavender and Parvati the only Gryffindor girls in Harry’s year? Was Pansy Parkinson the only Slytherin girl? Where were the others?). But the response to the female characters that did exist was often vitriolic at best. And the more I think about these secondary characters, the more I want to look into them and people’s reactions to them. I’ve been feeling the urge to reread Harry Potter for a while now, and the seventh anniversary of Deathly Hallows seems like the perfect time.

So keep your eyes peeled for more Harry Potter content on here in the near future. Character studies, a look at fan culture, and probably some general analysis and 11-year-long denial that Sirius really died. Because if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed over the past seven years, it’s that there’s nothing I like talking about more than Harry Potter.

Rhiannon

Rhiannon Thomas is the author of A WICKED THING and KINGDOM OF ASHES. She lives in York, England.

10 thoughts on “Seven Years since Deathly Hallows

  1. I am keen to see this, as I am an adult fan of the series, and also a feminist.

    You do know that Joanne Rowling became JK as a result of the publishers believing that she would sell more books if children didn’t know she was a woman?

    And yet England has produced Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton (plus of course MANY more intellectual authors who used their female first names). How sexist ARE children?!

    1. I wonder if Enid Blyton’s books are just considered “girl books,” though. Not the ones for really young children, but the ones written for kids around 8 or 10. There’s definitely an “eww girls” (or “eww boys”) thing around that age that might mean a female author name marks a book as “not for boys.”

      And more depressingly, there’s the possibility that the publishers thought that ADULTS would be less likely to buy a book for their children if they knew it was written by a woman. Sadly, I think that was probably the main concern. “Joanne Rowling? This isn’t for my son, then.”

      1. I once saw a post on tumblr where they had been working in a bookstore and a customer wouldn’t let her son buy Matilda because the cover was pink. So unfortunately, it does happen

  2. I’ve been a huge fan of the Harry Potter series for as long as I can remember and it’s basically my favorite thing ever, but I find that when I start to look at it more closely from a feminist perspective, it’s a bit disappointing. And I’ve always been very disappointed with the fandom reaction to some of the female characters in the series. I’ll be interested in seeing what you think.

    By the way, I’m a first time commenter but long time reader, and I just wanted to say how much I adore your blog! I always look forward to your posts!

    1. I agree – I think the young female characters, with the exception of early-series Hermione and Luna, are simply less well-written, and more stereotypical, than the male characters. (Ginny, in particular, is a terribly-written, unpleasant mess from book five onwards, and I think even Hermione’s characterisation goes downhill from book four. This doesn’t excuse the sexist fandom reactions, of course.) There’s also a dearth of interesting older female characters, apart from McGonagall.

      Looking forward to Rhiannon’s take on it!

  3. The Harry Potter series is definitely one of those fandoms that I absolutely know I’m in completely, but I’ve actually only read each book once, probably spanning a total of, like, 7 or 8 years – and I finished the last one 7 years ago. (That’s a long time for anyone’s memory!) It’s such a good idea to re-read them more critically instead of blasting through because I’m so caught up in the plot.

    1. I think the last time I read them all was seven years ago, in preparation for the Deathly Hallows release. I’ve read a couple of them again since then, but even that was a good four years ago. I’m looking forward to/slightly nervous about seeing how those seven years might have changed my perspective.

  4. I am completely terrified of re-reading them for the same reasons.

    Regarding Ginny, the older I get, the more I think my teenage-hatred of her was an early-stage frustration with the idea that to be “strong”, a woman had to be mean to others (e.g. Ginny’s rudeness to Fleur), one of the boys, and just generally intimidating. Hermione had all of these characteristics too, but these were her flaws, the things that made her less-than-perfect (scarring that girl’s face for life!). With Ginny, these traits felt strangely lauded, and honestly – I think if they were real people, she’d be a terrible match for Harry.

    I still think JK put Ginny forward as a “strong” girl to match our hero, when other female characters are equally strong in entirely unique and unstereotyped ways (Hermione, Fleur, Andromeda, Narcissa). Ginny always (and still does) gets on my nerves for how her rudeness, meanness, and thoughtlessness was supposed to translate into strength, willfulness, power.

    But I’m too scared to go back and find quotes to back me up. Because what if it’s not just Ginny who I don’t like this time?

  5. It’s certainly true that, aside from Hermione, opinions are split on the female students, and there aren’t enough of them. Luna is generally popular except for those who think she’s dumb or a flat Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Ginny, as you rightly say, is loathed for being rude, dating boys other than Harry, and then getting him in the end. Everyone else is meh.

    However, that’s the students. I have never spoken or read of anyone who didn’t adore McGonagall, although she did get a backstory that sounded a little like ‘I lost the man I love so I became strong.’ Also, Tonks is there, and Tonks is pretty well-loved, but she’s fairly minor.

    What I really would have liked was for Neville to be a girl. Nothing would need to be changed. Neville’s significance is that he could just have easily been the hero of the books. Having him as a female character would be a nice nod to the fact that Harry could have just as easily been a girl, and everything would have gone exactly the same.

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